Becoming More Positive: Embracing “Plan B”

PlanBI’ve never been afraid of  “Plan B”. You know —  the plan that is implemented after “Plan A” goes down in a fiery ball of flames. I can thank my first two bosses for that perspective. Starting out in customer research, “Plan B” was certainly a lesson I learned rather quickly. Samples were never how I envisioned them. Implementation was never perfect, and the results that followed? There was always some sort of  surprise —  a “twist” so to speak.

So, how do we handle the imperfections that are the reality of our work lives — and how do leaders help us to face the challenges that inevitably occur?  In these dynamic and unpredictable times, that is one question of the moment. The answer? This may in part relate to the level of positivity that our leaders possess and the behaviors they model for us each and every day. My first supervisor, for example, never flinched when a concern was raised. She simply listened and helped me work through the issues confidently. No drama. No Yelling. No disrespect.

As it turns out, a leader’s expression of positivity (that all will be well) could be one key to the psychological well-being of their followers — and the performance outcomes which follow. (A clear expression of hope and resilience, for example.) Recent research examining the construct of leader Psychological Capital, is elucidating the power of this connection.

Psychological Capital (PsyCap) is construct composed of four well researched psychological resources (the HERO resources) as follows:

The HERO resources:

  • Hope. A belief in the ability to persevere toward goals and find alternative paths to reach them.
  • Efficacy. The confidence that one can put forth the effort to affect outcomes.
  • Resilience. The ability to bounce back in the face of adversity or failure.
  • Optimism. A generally positive view of work and the potential of success.

In reality, those who lead or manage others possess varying levels of Psychological Capital — and the outward expression of those resources can change how we view (and process) the challenges we face in our work lives. Without this psychological support, failure can be just a failure. Not an opportunity to learn a few things and move forward feeling empowered.

So for what it is worth — thank you Marty and Elyse. Great bosses are worth their weight in gold.

What do you think? Does a leader’s level of positivity impact the workplace? Share your thoughts here.

Dr. Marla Gottschalk is a Workplace Psychologist. She also writes for Linkedin and US News & World Report.

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3 comments

  1. This is true and reminiscent of Richard Boystzis’s work on Emotional intelligence and Coaching with Compassion and his theory on IntentionalChange which begins with The Ideal Self – Hope, Compassion, Empathy are vote to his theory
    EI/ PsyCap: positivity is critical to the Positive Emotional Attractor, Boyatzis research illustrates the neuroscience around this; how emotion ( positive or otherwise is contagious)

    Boyatzis runs a MOOC out of Case Western Reserve Univ- it’s changed my life and approach to leadership as a senior executive

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